Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  August 12, 2016

Report: Policy can advance C&I use of renewables

While the number of U.S. corporations pursuing clean energy to power their businesses has grown dramatically in recent years, regulation has emerged as a tough barrier to further progress in the commercial and industrial market for renewable energy. 

According to a new report from nonprofit lobbying organization Advanced Energy Economy, the potential impact of corporate purchases of renewable energy on the nation's generation mix is huge: If only half of C&I electricity demand was met by renewable energy, it would drive the development of nearly 450 GW of renewable energy. That's more than four times the country's current capacity of wind and solar, according to the report, which examines the impact of state policy on corporate adoption of renewable energy and the correlating economic impacts on state economies.

"Despite impressive progress to date, the path to corporate renewable energy purchases is often less than clear,Meister Consultants Group, which conducted the study on behalf of Advanced Energy Economy, said in the report. "Market activity has been dominated by a small group of companies that have the determination and resources to navigate complicated regulatory waters. Opportunities also vary significantly across the country, and companies in some states are left with few options — if any — to pursue advanced energy. In these states, companies with firm advanced energy commitments are forced to explore other options, such as finding alternative locations for their operations or leaving their utility service provider." 

The report examines a number of state policies for effectiveness in helping to advance corporate adoption of renewable energy, and uncovered 11 states among the top five for one or more of the report's profiled policies that have the potential to increase corporate access to renewable energy: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. An additional seven states emerged among the top 10 for one or more of those policies: Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Meister said in the report

To understand the role that policies to expand corporate access to advanced energy could play across the country, this report first identifies policy options that states are using to enable corporate advanced energy purchases. The report then considers where these policies have the greatest potential to expand corporate access to advanced energy, assessing the regulatory and policy  environment, potential market size for corporate purchases, and renewable energy potential of all 50 states.

The report identifies six regulatory opportunities that have the potential to open renewable energy and distributed generation markets to a wider range of companies; that is, wider than the Microsofts, Apples and Wal-Marts of the C&I market that have the economies of scale to navigate pursuit of clean energy. Utility renewable energy tariffs; back-back utility PPAs; and direct access tariffs are among the solutions the report suggests states adopt. 

Advanced Energy Economy, or AEE, is a nonprofit lobbying organization whose members include both renewable energy and energy efficiency suppliers such as SunPower Corp., AES Corp.and Schneider Electric Corp. as well as large corporate energy users such as Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.  The full report is available on AEE's website

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